What is the Novel Coronavirus?
The respiratory illness that first appeared in December 2019 is known now as Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCov).
This virus is part of a large family of viruses that can cause a range of illnesses from Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) to the common cold.
How is the Novel Coronavirus spread?
These are the various ways the virus is spread:
- Wild animal contact
- Human contact
- Contaminated objects
- Undercooked food
- Touching eyes with dirty hands
- Droplets from patient
The outbreak is a timely reminder of the simple steps you can take to protect yourself and your family from life-threatening viruses.
What are the symptoms of Novel Coronavirus?
Symptoms can include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. In more severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia or breathing difficulties.
The known case fatality rate is approximately 2 percent, although epidemiologists say this figure is most likely high, because many people with mild or no symptoms are never diagnosed. Symptoms can appear as quickly as two days after initial exposure, or up to two weeks later.
How to protect yourself and your children from the Coronavirus?
Here are five precautions you and your family can take to avoid infection:
- Wash your hands frequently using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub
- Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
- Avoid close contact with anyone who has cold or flu-like symptoms
- Go to the doctor if you have a fever, cough or feel that it is difficult to breathe
- Avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals.
Should I wear a medical mask?
Healthy people do not need to wear masks.
The use of a medical mask is advised if you have respiratory symptoms (coughing or sneezing) to protect others. If you don’t have any symptoms, then there is no need to wear a mask.
If masks are worn, they must be used and disposed of properly to ensure their effectiveness and to avoid any increased risk of transmitting the virus.
The use of a mask alone is not enough to stop infections and must be combined with frequent hand washing, covering sneezes and coughs, and avoiding close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms (coughing, sneezing, fever).
Does the novel Coronavirus affect children?
This is a new virus and we do not know enough yet about how it affects children or pregnant women.
We know it is possible for people of any age to be infected with the virus, but so far there have been no reported fatalities of children linked to the novel coronavirus.
The virus is fatal in rare cases, so far mainly among older people with pre-existing medical conditions.
We are closely monitoring the situation and will update as new information becomes available.
What should I do if a family member displays symptoms?
You should seek medical care early if you or your child has a fever, cough or difficulty breathing.
Tell your health care provider if you have traveled to an area where the novel coronavirus has been reported, or if you have been in close contact with someone who has traveled from one of these areas and has respiratory symptoms.
Can pregnant women pass the Novel Coronavirus to unborn children?
At this time, there is not enough evidence to determine whether the virus is transmitted from a mother to her baby during pregnancy, or the potential impact this may have on the baby.
This is currently being investigated. Pregnant women should continue to follow appropriate precautions to protect themselves from exposure to the virus, and seek medical care early, if experiencing symptoms, such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing.
Is it safe for a mother to breastfeed if she is infected with Novel Coronavirus?
All mothers in affected and at-risk areas with symptoms of fever, cough or difficulty breathing, should seek medical care early, and follow instructions from a health care provider.
Considering the benefits of breastfeeding and the insignificant role of breastmilk in the transmission of other respiratory viruses, the mother could continue breastfeeding. However, precautions should be taken as there is a risk of transmission from mother to infant through respiratory droplets and direct contact, as well as indirectly through contaminated surfaces. Wear a mask when feeding a child, wash hands before and after feedings, and clean/disinfect contaminated surfaces.
If a mother is too ill, she should be encouraged to express milk and give it to the child via a clean cup and/or spoon– all while following the same infection prevention methods.